Transphobia at the London Anarchist Bookfair 2017

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Serge Forward's picture
Serge Forward
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Nov 10 2017 20:10
Antifa Armadillo wrote:
Mike Harman wrote:
I couldn't find any leaflets for the T. Chances dispute on twitter, although may not have figured out the right search terms.

I've been looking for it as well, and I'm not finding it either, which is quite frustrating, since I held a copy of it in my hand and didn't think to get a quick picture of it for just this sort of occasion. The search terms turn up so many irrelevant results that it's buried.

Down with the bookfair people for not finding it either. Jesus, read back over your and oranj's posts for one minute.

Antifa Armadillo
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Nov 10 2017 20:11
Serge Forward wrote:
Mike Harmon, if the allegation that Rovics associates with an anti semiite like Atzmon, then he is a cunt. However, to then suggest that the bookfair people are somehow tarnished by Rovics' associations is also a cunt's trick.

Surely they bear some responsibility for deciding to book someone who has published a full-throated defence of a racist tract written by a notorious holocaust denier and fascist sympathiser, and has not seen fit to reconsider that in light of Atzmon's decision no longer to even pretend that there's any daylight between himself and fash. People have been raising this issue for some time. To my mind, the question is whether the organisers were actually aware of it.

Antifa Armadillo
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Nov 10 2017 20:13
Serge Forward wrote:
Down with the bookfair people for not finding it either. Jesus, read back over your and oranj's posts for one minute.

The flyer was being handed out at T-Chances by T-Chances employees, and I've since found a photo of it and posted the link. In case you haven't seen it, it's here: https://ibb.co/kpoyOG

I find it pretty hard to believe that workers who went to the trouble of designing, writing, and printing this flyer to make the public aware of their dispute wouldn't have made the bookfair organisers aware of the situation when they decided to book the venue. Nonetheless, no statement the organisers have made about the various issues has mentioned it at all.

Mike Harman
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Nov 10 2017 20:19
Serge wrote:
Mike Harmon, if the allegation that Rovics associates with an anti semiite like Atzmon, then he is a cunt. However, to then suggest that the bookfair people are somehow tarnished by Rovics' associations is also a cunt's trick.

Let's look at what was actually said:

oranj wrote:
I didn't even mention that David Rovics, one of the 'stars' booked, is friends with Gilad Atzmon, who is a holocaust denier. Oh, slipped up there.]

Are you saying it's not a slip up to book Rovics?

AK Press published a book by Michael Schmidt, who turned out to be a fucking racist. That was a slip up too, they've not been particularly tarnished by it though because they tried to handle it once they found out (if anything they caught flak for releasing an alarmist statement about it).

We decided to keep a PDF of the book on the site after we found out, with a massive disclaimer on it (something that's still subject to change, but other pages in the first page of google results are an invitation to purchase it with no disclaimer, so while they're still up we decided this was the least worst option).

We've taken a fair bit of flak for having the PDF up even with a disclaimer, but I don't call the people doing that cunts because I can see the perspective (in fact agree with it apart from the above context) of not wanting it available anywhere at all.

Serge Forward wrote:
Mike Harmon, sadly your politics have deteriorated and my respect for you as a poster on here is rapidly evaporating.

The feeling is mutual.

Antifa Armadillo
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Nov 10 2017 20:23
Mike Harman wrote:
AK Press published a book by Michael Schmidt, who turned out to be a fucking racist. That was a slip up too.

The Schmidt situation is a good example of how some seriously dodgy politics can make it under leftists' radar if they're phrased in the right terminology. The relevance to this situation with the TERFs should be readily apparent.

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Nov 10 2017 21:20
MH wrote:
We decided to keep a PDF of the book on the site after we found out, with a massive disclaimer on it (something that's still subject to change, but other pages in the first page of google results are an invitation to purchase it with no disclaimer, so while they're still up we decided this was the least worst option).

Can we also expect from the admins "a massive disclaimer" on the extensive Aufheben content on libcom in the light of it being proven - http://libcom.org/forums/feedback-content/why-article-has-been-removed-07102011?page=13#comment-597829 - that some at least of it is the product of someone who works with cops to develop repressive policing tactics - and that the Aufheben collective has never criticised this member's role but on the contrary defended it?

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Nov 10 2017 22:21

Don't hold your breath.

Mike Harman
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Nov 10 2017 22:23
Red Marriott wrote:
Can we also expect from the admins "a massive disclaimer" on the extensive Aufheben content

Do you mean other than the two open letters from TPTG (one of which has a go at us for having a go at their first open letter) and the article by Wildcat which all show up on the Aufheben tag listing ? The second open letter from TPTG is at the top of that listing (just fixed a duplicate tag on one of them). The last comments from us in the Aufheben thread still reflect the status quo otherwise, it might change when we're all online again.

Red Marriott wrote:
- and that the Aufheben collective has never criticised this member's role but on the contrary defended it?

Have you been in touch with them enquiring about the new press releases/statements? Given they contradict some parts of Aufheben's previous statement that might be worth doing (or it might not). Or you could just keep bringing it up on this thread of course.

In contrast, we don't have any articles about the Michael Schmidt case in the library at all - I think there should be some, but no-one's added any. That makes the disclaimer a bit thin (even though it's prominent), and the thread is a bit too dense to expect people to go through.

We also don't have any disclaimers on the McLibel documentary article on the site yet, nor any statements about it.

Mike Harman
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Nov 10 2017 23:23

Googled the title of the leaflet "Hands off T-Chances" and was able to find some more info. It's not only an industrial dispute, in addition the owners have been evicting community groups and people think the management are planning to turn the venue over to property developers.

https://www.facebook.com/save399.org/

Full text of the leaflet including their request of anyone who books an event there: http://save399.org/images/the-problem-with-tchances-oct17.pdf

Videos:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OUdRUI4Bals
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IMOwlL33LxY

So it looks like the sort of place that would normally be great for the bookfair to book, they're not calling for a total boycott in that leaflet but that people only book events there with conditions attached.

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Nov 10 2017 23:40
MH wrote:
Do you mean other than the two open letters from TPTG (one of which has a go at us for having a go at their first open letter) and the article by Wildcat which all show up on the Aufheben tag listing ?

No, I mean - as I said - a disclaimer "from the admins" in light of your changed opinions which wouldn't be at all obvious from those docs.

Quote:
The last comments from us in the Aufheben thread still reflect the status quo otherwise, it might change ... Or you could just keep bringing it up on this thread of course.

I realise it’s a sore point for you but you’ve ranged over diverse topics from Shinto Buddhism to Class War and more on this thread and demanded others deal with inconsistency and contradiction in their behaviour and criticised statements of others for their limits/failings. Yet I mention something relevant but diverging from the desired dictated narrative and I get the snarky admin response. I wonder what you’re trying to prove with the new MH posting persona – more over-compensating for past errors? Well some of those errors remain outstanding & unresolved and it’s like trying to get blood from a stone. I guess you’ve only had 6 years to assess & deal with the Dr J issue and there’s less kudos on the scene in being seen to be tough or decisive on that. If you’re criticising the contradictions or hypocrisies of others you’d do well to sort out your own. Otherwise it continues to look like pals of admins get the hypocritical protected kid glove treatment.

Antifa Armadillo
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Nov 11 2017 00:04
Mike Harman wrote:
Googled the title of the leaflet "Hands off T-Chances" and was able to find some more info. It's not only an industrial dispute, in addition the owners have been evicting community groups and people think the management are planning to turn the venue over to property developers.

Thanks for finding this. So the whole thing is online, and yet Google searches for 't-chances labour dispute' and various permutations turn up nothing relevant. Bloody hell.

Mike Harman
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Nov 11 2017 00:46
Red Marriott wrote:
Otherwise it continues to look like pals of admins get the hypocritical protected kid glove treatment.

I don't know anyone in either Aufheben or the bookfair collective, but I think we collectively have more (or at least equivalent, which wouldn't be very much) links with the bookfair collective. From your response it looks like you haven't contacted Aufheben. If you've written off any chance of a decent response from them it'd be fine to say so, I have too at this point.

Steven. wrote:
On the matter of the book fair collective, just for information the libcom group are drafting an email to send to them to give them a chance to address and correct their behaviour. If they decline then we may cosign the above Edinburgh AF statement.

Rather than signing the open letters, we e-mailed them to give them a chance to respond. You could probably call that 'hypocritical protected kid gloves' too if you wanted. At least one person reached out to us to sign one of the statements but we said no for now (and it's moot if the event isn't happening next year).

Red Marriott wrote:
I guess you’ve only had 6 years to assess & deal with the Dr J issue and there’s less kudos on the scene in being seen to be tough or decisive on that.

What is the reason you think there is 'less kudos on the scene' between the two cases?

In one, someone does dodgy academic research on riots and shops it around to police and councils (something they denied six years ago, which we wrongly took their word for until that press release/research was surfaced by you) while writing for Aufheben pseudonymously. I haven't read Aufheben recently but also never noticed any reformist policing line in their publication nor has one been pointed out.

On the other hand, the group handing out leaflets at the bookfair are openly campaigning for trans women to be kept in mens' prisons (and etc.) at an anarchist event, actively giving information about anarchists to the police, and selling their photos to the Daily Mail (well documented by their own statements online).

Even if you think these are equally bad (or one is worse), they're different problems to deal with. If we did things for 'kudos on the scene' we'd make a lot of different decisions to the ones we do.

Helen Steel's record of activism is now being used to promote this transphobic event in Cambridge which she'll be speaking at btw: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/a-womans-place-is-on-the-platform-tickets-39588207394

Mike Harman
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Nov 11 2017 01:23
Antifa Armadillo wrote:
Thanks for finding this. So the whole thing is online, and yet Google searches for 't-chances labour dispute' and various permutations turn up nothing relevant. Bloody hell.

Didn't look through everything yet, but what I did read so far doesn't mention an industrial dispute as such - it mostly blames one manager and the trustees for evicting community groups / declining bookings from locals.

It's really shit generally that the first time we've heard about this is two weeks after the event, don't think that particular responsibility falls on the bookfair collective though (although explicitly asking venues about disputes is a good idea).

past tense
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Nov 11 2017 01:30

No apologies for not taking part in this thread after posting my eyewitness account of the events at the Bookfair.

Instead I've been involved in some other responses to the events. More usefully I think.

There are so many posts above I could argue with but it seems futile, frankly. It's a shame, because Libcom has alot of good content, but politically it seems the admins have disappeared up their own arse so far their tongues are lapping themselves.

So many points I could argue with - facilitating the arson wanking of oranj and their clearly deranged friends. Lumping together atheism and racism. the wholesale slagging of the bookfair collective for not being enough of a central committee. Blurring over so many complex inter-relations of power with oppression top trumps. Justifying the violent mobbing of a woman because she doesn't fall into line with your newthink. Labelling the collective scabs?!?! - for the after-party at T-chances, NOT booked by the bookfair (arranged by others). Can't see the point, really.

I know that there are people on both sides of the dispute that showed one of its eruptions at the bookfair who are feeling traumatised and devastated at this time. I see chances for honest and useful discussion on this being diminished, and this thread is contributing to that. However, there are lots of people out there trying to overcome the divide with honest and brave approaches. Kudos to them. And it does have to be tried. But theoretical wanking won't be part of that.

Good luck with the anarchist movement and re-invented bookfair - run by Afed and the muppets who wrote that open letter? That'll be fucking hilarious.

To the admins - please delete my account. I have had enough of this place.

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Nov 11 2017 04:57
past tense wrote:

So many points I could argue with - facilitating the arson wanking of oranj and their clearly deranged friends. Lumping together atheism and racism. the wholesale slagging of the bookfair collective for not being enough of a central committee. Blurring over so many complex inter-relations of power with oppression top trumps. Justifying the violent mobbing of a woman because she doesn't fall into line with your newthink. Labelling the collective scabs?!?! - for the after-party at T-chances, NOT booked by the bookfair (arranged by others). Can't see the point, really.

You let your mask slip there buddy.

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Nov 11 2017 11:18

Yeah I'm very disappointed by that response from Past Tense.

For the record, I was about to comment to say that whoever brought up the new and completely spurious allegation of the Bookfair collective being "scabs" (oranj I believe), that is completely out of order and clearly bullshit.

To my knowledge, the Bookfair collective don't even organise the after party themselves.

To me, the issues around transphobia are significant enough that people don't have to invent new and completely bogus charges (like "scabbing" and "colonialism"). And that doing so hardens positions on both sides, and also undermines people with serious concerns, in this case about transphobia.

So for example here Past Tense has conflated the libcom group with some people posting on our site. This is comparable with how people treat the Bookfair collective, which is why naturally I think libcom group empathises with them: because we are often held responsible for behaviour we abhor on our site, but it is not possible for us to control the behaviour of everyone on our site. As it is not possible for the Bookfair collective to control everyone at their event.

That said, in many cases criticism by us of users has been completely justified. For example we were criticised a while ago for transphobia, and initially to my recollection we defended ourselves. But then after reviewing, as Mike has mentioned we saw a load of transphobic comments in the forums which had been there for years which some of us missed and others misguidedly defended in a free speech-esque type scenario similar to the Bookfair collective.

So we realised we had messed up, we rectified the problem and apologised, and then criticism of us stopped.

Partly this is why rather than cosigning a public denunciation of the collective, we contacted them privately to try to resolve things. Although it is an unfortunate to see their statement say that people denounced them publicly but didn't contact them privately to try to resolve things. Now that is true of those who signed the open letter, but those of us who didn't and instead contact them directly have not received a response, other than the public statement.

Now we are going to write back to the Bookfair collective to see if we can engage in constructive discussion, and I would like to do that with Past Tense as well.

Although I find it deeply concerning that Past Tense appears to refer to the basic belief that trans people should be treated as they would like to be treated – and just in line with basic human decency – is Orwellian "newthink".

I think sometimes people can get caught up in hysteria about "political correctness" and whatever, but this is not just about political correctness for the sake of it or what have you. Discrimination against trans people is a public health disaster: 40% of all trans people have attempted suicide. Trans people who feel supported by people around them are over 80% less likely to try to kill themselves. This is not some attempt to be more right-on-than-thou on the internet, it is about making our movement a welcoming place for all working class people, and not trying to help drive our own comrades to end their own lives.

ajjohnstone
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Nov 11 2017 13:36

There are other anarchist book-fairs in the provinces.

Now it's up to them to stand up to be counted.

The first task is arranging free accommodaton for those who travel up to attend them and the accompanying meetings

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Nov 11 2017 18:57

Looking at some of the comments on Facebook from people defending the Bookfair, they are so terrible that I hope they would make some of the defenders consider who they are siding with:

Quote:
'Trans women' are men. Men who attacked Maria Mac and Helen Steel. Solidarity with the bookfair!! Maybe Radfems can help with the next one? xx
Quote:
Thank you for disapproving the assaults at the last bookfair. Men (and I don't give a shit what they identify themselves with) attacking women, using their higher physical strength to 'win the argument', is not radical politics. It's the politics of cowards.I am not a feminist: I am only allergic to bullies of any form and shape.
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Nov 11 2017 19:29

Hardly surprising that Terfs would try to make political capital out of this.

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Nov 11 2017 20:04
Steven. wrote:
Looking at some of the comments on Facebook from people defending the Bookfair, they are so terrible that I hope they would make some of the defenders consider who they are siding with:

Guilt by association is pretty shitty whichever way you swing it.

There are shitty ways of dealing with shitty behaviour. They all seem to be coming out now.

Those leaflets were pretty shitty.

A group of 30 people mobbing a lone person afterwards was pretty shitty.

The open letter afterwards was pretty shitty too.

And so was a lot of stuff afterwards.

Oh well...

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Nov 11 2017 20:32
darren p wrote:
Steven. wrote:
Looking at some of the comments on Facebook from people defending the Bookfair, they are so terrible that I hope they would make some of the defenders consider who they are siding with:

Guilt by association is pretty shitty whichever way you swing it.

Yes it is, which is why people slagging off libcom for stuff we didn't say was pretty shitty. A difference is that we argued against other anti-transphobic Bookfair critics against their points which we thought were unfair (like the nonsense allegation of scabbing, the blame for things the collective have no role in, like booking meetings, the baseless complaint about the date clash with the UFFC demo etc). But nowhere can I see the collective or pro-collective people telling these bigots jumping on the bandwagon to get fucked.

More generally I did not pull out those comments to say the Bookfair collective were responsible for them. I said that my genuine hope was that seeing hateful bigots line up to support them would make them question their actions and act differently in future (as we eventually did after we were criticised on this same issue).

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Nov 11 2017 20:39
Steven. wrote:
But nowhere can I see the collective or pro-collective people telling these bigots jumping on the bandwagon to get fucked.

Would have thought the collective were laying low, due to demoralisation or frustration as far as I can make out. But I don't know, I don't know them..

Yes those bandwagon jumpers are shitty too.

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rat
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Nov 11 2017 21:19

admin: comments split to start new thread here – https://libcom.org/forums/theory/gender-recognition-act-11112017

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Nov 12 2017 03:01

Defenders of the mystery bookfair organisers might want to take a look at the thread Steven mentioned. These are the sort of people HS associates with. She's attending their event in Cambs coming up. And they defend that?

wojtek
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Nov 12 2017 13:40

https://medium.com/@hulksmashfascism/terf-war-why-us-cis-people-need-to-grow-up-28d488e91a81

autogestión
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Nov 12 2017 14:59
Oranj wrote:
Bookfair evades accountability to the very end. They'd rather shut it down than be accountable.

They didn't shut it down. If you want to organise it, you are free to.

autogestión
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Nov 12 2017 15:16

As a matter of interest, these events getting some wider interest: https://www.patreon.com/posts/15312821

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Nov 12 2017 17:13
autogestión wrote:
Oranj wrote:
Bookfair evades accountability to the very end. They'd rather shut it down than be accountable.

They didn't shut it down. If you want to organise it, you are free to.

They took their ball away. They'd rather do that than distance themselves from a TERF.

I think this is a positive outcome. Can't have liberals running an anarchist bookfair. smile

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Nov 12 2017 17:18
autogestión wrote:
As a matter of interest, these events getting some wider interest: https://www.patreon.com/posts/15312821

Sectarian gripes from a fucking Leninist - lol. Really hot take there. He hasn't been to a bookfair since 2001, part of his avoiding any contact with working class resistance no doubt.

autogestión
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Nov 12 2017 18:15
Oranj wrote:
autogestión wrote:
Oranj wrote:
Bookfair evades accountability to the very end. They'd rather shut it down than be accountable.

They didn't shut it down. If you want to organise it, you are free to.

They took their ball away. They'd rather do that than distance themselves from a TERF.

I think this is a positive outcome. Can't have liberals running an anarchist bookfair. :)

They gave their ball to you. Let's hope you make good use of it.